March 2015: Checking Account Features and Fees

When it comes to basic consumer banking, checking accounts continually drive prospects to new firms as the go-to banking product for easy access to deposits. In this report, we investigate the standalone checking products and account bundles offered by each Bank Monitor firm. We evaluate the features firms provide for each individual account and compare a number of checking account fees, including those for overdrafts, wire transfers, stop payments and statement copies.

In total, our survey of available checking accounts covers 63 accounts and account bundles, with options varying from no-fee online checking products to high-end bundles requiring minimum balances of $20,000 or more. The features accompanying each checking account vary greatly, with a few firms offering rewards checking or optional rewards debit cards. A total of 28 accounts allow clients to earn interest on their balances, and several higher-end accounts feature discounts on additional firm products and services.

Unsurprisingly, the most widely available checking account is the basic, no-frills account. Offered by 14 banks in our report, this account type carries a monthly maintenance fee between $3 and $12, with transactions (like direct deposit) and balance thresholds serving as qualifiers to have the fees waived. Nine firms augment their basic checking accounts with a student-branded standalone account.

The Detailed Matrix in this report is split in two sections: Checking Accounts and Checking Account Fees. The first table details the checking accounts offered by each firm, how they present their checking accounts online, what their maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements are, how clients can waive the monthly balance fee and what benefits are built into the firm’s premium checking accounts. The second section, pertaining to basic checking and premium accounts, contains fees for overdrafts, wire transfers, statement copies and more.

In each detailed finding, we discuss the features that firms provide with each account. At the end of each detailed finding is a table listing that firm’s checking products, along with the monthly fees, fee waiver requirements, information about ATM fee waivers and APYs for all accounts.